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Ancient Babylonian, Chinese And Greek Astronomy: Comparing And Contrasting

1572 words - 6 pages

Astronomy: Evolution of the Universe.Ancient Babylonian, Chinese and Greek Astronomy: Shaping how we view today's universeAstronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth's atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). It is associated with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe. Early astronomy involved observing the regular patterns of the motions of visible celestial objects, especially the Sun, Moon, stars and planets as viewed from the naked eye. Ancient astronomers were able to differentiate between stars and planets, as stars remain relatively fixed over the centuries while planets will move an appreciable amount during a comparatively short time. This essay will examine the astronomy of three ancient civilizations: Chinese, Babylonian and Greek, while also outlining the some of the key discoveries that were made in these specific eras.The ancient and primitive cosmologies of Babylonia date back to around 4000BC, and although the Babylonians knew the periods of the sun, moon, and planets, their cosmology dealt primarily with the Earth's place in the cosmos, and, in particular, the space of their small territory lying between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Their system of government was based on the worship of many different gods and each one was assigned a specific mantra eg god of the harvest, god of good health, fertility etc. Because these gods "acted" in accordance with very definite laws that governed their actions, it could be said that the Babylonians believed in a well-ordered universe. "Each god controlled a different path to the heavens, the earth, the air, and the seas". (Moltz, L., & Weaver, J. 1995). Babylonian astronomy is considered an orderly cosmology because the Babylonians believed that no god could act in any way to conflict with any other god. They may have regarded their jobs as 'watchdogs' who could only preside over the natural flow of phenomena but not alter the flow; their gods were guardians whom the Babylonians identified with the moon, the planets, and the prominent constellations.The Babylonian cosmology naturally led to the belief in astrology because with all-powerful gods present, "the constantly changing configurations of the moon, sun and the planets against the background of the evening sky, meant that the gods were sending some kind of message to the Babylonians about their fate and fortune" (Babylonian Astronomy 2003, 2003). Because these constantly changing messages were understood by relating the observed changing celestial configuration to their own experiences, the Babylonians became astute observers of the celestial bodies and, thus, developed a study of astronomy. Nothing much in the nature of astronomical knowledge emerged from this Babylonian...

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